After 34 years here and four in the remote area …

Comment on Tourism: let the battle for the big spenders begin by Trevor Shiell.

After 34 years here and four in the remote area tourism area I think the planning authorities have missed the mark in focusing on the high yield end of the market, and are being slightly greedy.
One manager put it to me this way: I would rather have one client paying $1000 a night than 100 clients paying $10.
Less problems and easier money. They miss the point that 100 people coming here spend more money in associated businesses – food, entertainment, regional travel etc that one “high yielding” client.
The total return to the operator might be the same but the distribution of the economic activity is far more widely spread.
This is where we have gone wrong. On a recent trip South in May last year we encountered 374 vans heading North between here and Coober Pedy.
I wondered at the time how many of them actually saw the visitors centre in town or for that matter, went on straight through without being intercepted at all by the town.
Maybe they did not even know where it was. Signage at the same rock perhaps? Still conspicuous by its absence.
There are at least 10 items of interest to visitors between there and the Gap, only one of which is exploited, but we have a brand new row of back yard fences were we should have a vibrant display of everything we do here, advertising ourselves and who we are.
An unique environmentally sound village there would have been a hit, but no, we got a replica of anywhere else in Australia.
Similarly at round the same time I did a brief survey of the traffic flow around the welcome rock south of town and there were 102 people photographed on that rock in the several hours that I sat there.
It is so obvious that his is where the interception area for the “low yielding” visitors should have been and from there, directed to where we want the economic activity to be.
I believe the total benefits to the NT would and should have been far more substantial and widely distributed than a few high yielding people arriving at the five star end of the market which seems to be the ultimate aim of the marketing plan.
I have witnessed caravaners being fined for parking illegally while trying to access the Visitors centre.
These things spread very rapidly amongst the caravaning community. In January last year the ABC programme “Summer all over” ran a survey of what the travelling public want in a visitors centre.
The view was that the essentials were clean toilets and adequate parking. Ours has neither. The refusal of the planners in the industry to look at places such as McLaren Vale, in SA and in North Qld show just how far we are away from enticing travellers to stay here and investigate.
The signage here is appalling and again I invite the planners in the industry to look at SA and the signage around Lake Eyre Eyre and then look at what we offer here. (Anzac Hill!)
There are new attractions all over the world that could be staged here but are ignored. Japan has a 100 km student marathon attracting 80 million TV viewers.
Imagine that from Glen Helen to the Mall, but the planners show no interest in that free publicity when I explained it to them.
The recent sand castle building on the beach South of Adelaide could be replicated here in the Todd.
So the list goes on and will be so until the planners take off their blinkers and look around at where the real market is, and act accordingly.

Recent Comments by Trevor Shiell

Interrogating council’s Climate Action Plan
Can you imagine in a country such as Israel surrounded by desert as we are, using water to flush away human waste including some food scraps, and then treatng the water as a waste product and letting it evaporate as we do? Because of their need, they (Israel) claim to be able to produce a tonne of potable water from waste for under 60 cents using nano tube technology. Singapore has a complete university faculty devoted to the same objective for the same reasons. Why are we not chasing the same concept? Now add the commercial value of the nutrients in the ponds and we should be on a winner.
Some with long memories might remember some years ago one operator of the tip installed a network of pipes under the refuse to collect the gas. What ever happened to that? On occasions I get the wiff of hydrogen sulphide on passing. This gas is second only to hydrogen cyanide in toxicity and is now banned from school laboratories for that reason. It used to be good fun making it! I have wondered at times of its effect on workers at the tip and this needs to be monitored for OH & S reasons. All that is needed are a few strips of blotting paper soaked in silver nitrate and we might have a case for moving it, or better still,look at alternative and more up to date technologies.


Election 2020 salvos fired with Alice the first battleground
There are many achievable plans for the town but the trouble is the government and their planners refuse to look far ahead, and kowtow to a small goup whose vision does not extend beyond house renovation and the Traeger Park complex.
The CBD is where it is for historic reasons, not practical planning in line with current realities. Brewer is a the centre of three major cross country transport facilities –three cross country highways, a cross country rail and an international airport – a fact not lost on the transport people in the Kimberlys, but ignored by most of us here who refuse to put our heads out from under the shell.
This is where industrial development must take place. The far-sighted transport operators and mining companies are already storing at the cattle yards.
The northern rail entry illustrates the point. It is no coincidence that one of the major transport companies in the nation (Linfox) was in town last week at the same time Government was talking about privately developing the Tanami.
A toll road perhaps?
Tourism continues to ignore the potential of the area south of The Gap.
Last week I counted over 40 vehicles and just over 100 visitors being photographed on the welcome rock near the Adelaide turnoff in the 40 or so minutes I sat there waiting for a plane.
A similar situation is occurring at the Old Ghan engine near the cemetery.
Once again I ask where are the tourism people?
It occurred to me that it is only a hop step and jump from the Transport Hall of Fame which would make a great tourism / visitors centre, like Winton with a central theme, an introduction to the whole of the NT rather than attempt to have visitors try to park in the CBD and run them in and out in a couple of electric vehicles as happens elsewhere.
There is no apparent planning for the deluge of electric trucks about to descend on us from at least three manufacturers.
Diesel is an obsolete technology and Brewer is where it should be based on solar power, and the planning should have started years ago.
I don’t see a flood of people going to the museum in the mall and the silly situation with the cultural centre will not solve the problem.
We are planning to have a plan to yet again have another plan to re develop the CBD plan yet again. The cultural centre should be in conjunction with Yirara College to let the students there demonstrate their own cultural heritage and not use this to serve the vested interests of the CBD.
With the current fuss about safety with quad bikes, what better training ground than the motor complex at the drag strip.
We could learn so much if we just opened our eyes and looked around.


Gold theft: the demise of a wattle
Interesting observation. Apart from camel grazing, there is a world of science which has been ignored to our detriment.
I wonder when it will dawn on pollies that there are huge economic opportunities underlying what has been lost at that site.
Commercial interests in SA are farming both of these species of Acacia (and our Caparis, and bush tomato) both for soil enrichment (being legumes), shelter and now seed production for high value bush food.
Prior to that much of the research into the economic potential of these species has been underway in North Africa and India for quite a few years, while we think only of houses, and grader blades.
The soil science of these species is a huge economic goldmine but once more ignored by Governments which have ignored or are ignorant of the science involved.
A WA university has been researching desert Michorriza and native desert legumes for years to improve soil fertility.
Mention that word (Michoriza) to the pollies and you get a huge yawn.
There are other things that could have provided a lot of opportunities here but are ignored.
What is it about native Cyprus pine, for example, that repels termites?
No one bothers to ask and yet research into that would save us millions and create research opportunities, and jobs.
Animal pheromones to control their feral numbers? No one seems to notice their effects on feral animals and use their behaviour to aggregate and control them.
This is used on other animals (fruit fly, etc) but never contemplated here.
Have they ever been charged by a boar intent on mating? Or a herd of 1000 camels charged with hormones and pheromones?
Scientific ignorance or just plain ignorance amongst politicians who see only new houses the same as everywhere else, and grader blades. All of these and others could have been the basis of a completely new set of industries here, but sadly have set up elsewhere. Sad!


Billionaire may invest in giant Tennant solar farm
Remember back to the “towards 2030” project of two Labor Governments ago: A proposal was put in, to place a series of such facilities as this from Darwin to here to electrify the rail line and export the electricity interstate using the rail network.
It happens across Europe ,Japan and elsewhere but not here because we refuse to look around at what is possible elsewhere.
Can you imagine the tourism potential of a trans national railway powered by alternative energy?
It would have provided the Indigenous interests all the way along the line with a constant revenue stream as well as serve the national interest.
Now this morning on ABC RN I hear John Hewson supporting a similar project.
The usual excuse is money and it is sad that much of our infrastructure is financed from overseas while we continue to use houses often well beyond our needs.
The Towards 2030 concept was swallowed up in the usual social platitudes, and shows the shallow nature of planning over recent years, and which continues to this day.
Hydrogen production facilities are currently being set up in Adelaide because of their “superior” sunlight characteristics.
No one was encouraged to look here, and we have no where to demonstrate the potential of the large multi million dollar hemp facility being planned further north because the research and demonstration facility here is now covered with houses the same as any other suburb in Australia.
And so the list goes on, with Anzac Hill.
The obvious place for a cultural centre is still with Yirara College so the students there can learn and demonstrate their own culture and learn the necessary management skills.
In addition the Road Transport Hall of Fame could become a visitors information centre with minor road deviations from the main South Road, and serve the whole of the NT as has happened elsewhere. The shallow nature of the planning is breathtaking.


New mines in The Centre – a snapshot
In the late 60s a BHP geologist examined several magnetic lines of lineament across the continent. Many of the existing mineral deposits were found to be on these lines and they all intersected in the Jervois area. The land was subsequently taken up by Mithril Resources, an offshoot of BHP and the potential there is massive.
Verdant resources is a sad case as it has massive resources of phosphate.
One school of thought is that Australia will run out of phosphate within 20 years, then it will probably have to come from North Africa, with all the potential instability to supply for political reasons, and consequences for our farmers.
Yet in spite of this the powers that be allowed the sale of the company to overseas interests –fortunately British, headed by an Australian, and not the usual Chinese.
They did not purchase the venture for feel good reasons but they were looking 20 years down the road as we should have been doing.
That was a strategic Australian asset lost again, the reason being that we could not raise enough money in this country to develop it in the national interest.
However we can still muster the money to build houses far in excess of our needs and imports to satisfy our need to be bigger than the man down the street, but cannot muster the dollars to keep control of a strategic asset essential to the welfare of the nation.
Much the same almost happened with rare earths in Northern Minerals which produces dysprosium, an essential ingredient in the new generation of jet engines.
Chinese private interests were chasing it. As a shareholder in Verdant (and Northern Minerals) I protested but to no avail and the few dollars involved short term were heard more clearly than the voice of a small shareholder, and the welfare long term of the nation.
Sad!
I am also a shareholder and supporter of both TNG and Arafura.


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